A couple of weeks ago I shared a blog about the power of personal brand – and, as part of that, I touched on perceptions and how we can use simple tools that help create a desired perception of ourselves.
In my experience, though, there are two overarching aspects to creating an impression – the best ‘us’ we can be – and these are body language and posture. Both of these form a huge part of our personal brand both in the physical sense; but also and increasingly in a virtual sense.
So, in today’s blog I want to chat a little more about what this means, and how we can start to consider how body language – if you like our ‘power pose’ – can deliver a positive and memorable first impression, through our personal brand.
What psychologists say…
In 2012, ‘the Power Pose’ (sometimes called the ‘Power Posture’) was a huge talking point, and this followed a TED talk delivered by Amy Cuddy. Amy is a social psychologist – rapidly attaining celeb status – who argued that by “power posing” – that is standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -can boost feelings of confidence, and would likely have an impact on our chances for success.
Put simply, if we look like we mean business we are more likely to convey that we do mean business (even if, inwardly, we still hold reservations.)
Her session is now the second most viewed TED talk ever, and her theory/ approach has been used across the globe from world leaders, politicians and public speakers right through to people going for a job interview or speaking up at a meeting.
(Anyone remember a number of senior politicians standing like this when making key note speeches a couple of years ago? I will mention a bit more about politicians using techniques below.)
So, what does this mean in relation to personal branding?
Now, it will not have escaped anyone that I am not a social psychologist myself. But I have witnessed hundreds of ‘pitches’ or situations where the power of the first impression is vital. So, I have also witnessed the success of Amy’s theory. I have used it myself and I have also observed how many entrepreneurs and leaders I have worked with across the length of my career have used the approach.
So, if we then go on to think a bit more about first impressions – and how people you meet arrive at these – I believe you have two opportunities to adopt the ‘Power Pose’ approach and to create a sense of confidence.
The first of these is in a face to face encounter – and your body language and posture are crucial here.
But the second is maybe a little more nebulous, and this is the first impression created by the images people see of you – for example, a headshot photograph. But this visual imagery is becoming increasingly important as social media explodes.
I have recently been running a number of workshops recently to help individuals understand and use the power of personal brand. Last week’s blog touched upon one of these for Northern Tech Women. In this workshops, I touch on this issue of body language and explain how other people can create a judgement about us, before we have even spoken. The research suggests people have made their mind up in around 10 seconds. See this ‘Business insider’ article for a good summary.
So, its important we consider this, IF we want to create our desired (and most of the time, positive) first impression. We are going to create one anyway, so why’d not make it a good one and one we are in control of?
Having talked a lot about how a successful brand provokes an emotional reaction, and the importance of openness in our body language I should also keep it real. I do approach that we all suffer from nerves and self-confidence issues. So, it’s not always that easy, our brains can focus on nerves as opposed to helping us think about what we might be doing with our hands or feet! I know mine does anyway – but its about making a start
I really don’t intend to talk about hardly at all within this blog, as I am sure we have all had enough of this subject through other platforms. But in the context of perception and body language I think it’s worth saying a bit more to build on the oblique reference above.Earlier this week I was speaking with a friend of mine about how politicians use different techniques to deliver a speech. Someone that springs for obvious reasons is Boris Johnson. Whether you love or loathe Boris – agree or disagree – he has certainly grabbed everyone’s attention. He has been open about his admiration for Winston Churchill, so much so he has written a book on him; and openly admits that he uses similar techniques picked up from Churchill when speaking publicly himself. (Check out this video from The Telegraph) including everything from breathing, terminology and posture.
As I say whether you think Boris portrays a positive or negative impact through his personal brand and speech – he creates impact and it can be worth trying to learn something even from people you maybe don’t like or disagree with.
Where KComms can help
So, on that note I would like to leave you with a little shameless plug, if this issue of first impression – and power posturing – is something you want to consider, we can help you There are some simple techniques you can use to overcome nerves, to exude confidence and to help you deliver a powerful first impression. You are going to deliver an impression anyway – why not make it a good one especially if you are in a position where the consequences of a bad impression can have a major impact for you and your career.
I look forward to hearing any thoughts of feedback from you all.
Have a fantastic week,